25 August 2021
By: Dwayne Page
Five months after the DeKalb Animal Coalition took court to try to prevent the city of Smithville from intervening in the operation of the animal shelter, the case was dismissed.
The order was signed Monday, August 23 by Chancellor Ronald Thurman.
It was clear the case would be dropped after the coalition and the city agreed to the terms of an amended lease and contract for the operation of the animal shelter, which were approved and signed by parties from both. sides earlier this month.
“All the files attached to the trial were resolved amicably by the plaintiff (coalition) and the defendant (city) by virtue of the fact that the parties entered into a modified lease and contract dated August 10, 2021. It is also unnecessary to add DeKalb County as a necessary and indispensable part. It is therefore ordered that the action brought by the Plaintiff (Coalition) against the Defendants the City of Smithville and the County of DeKalb be hereby dismissed with respect to both Defendants ”, and pursuant to the Order.
In March, the Chancellor issued a temporary restraining order pending a final hearing to prevent the town of Smithville from resuming operation of the animal shelter that was and remains under the control of the DeKalb Coalition for Humane Treatment of Animals, INC.
The Coalition, represented by lawyer Sarah Cripps, sought to make permanent the temporary restraining order against the city and to have the Chancellor interpret and interpret the provisions of the Coalition’s lease and contract with the city regarding l operation of the animal shelter as well as the Coalition’s Memorandum of Understanding with the county.
Cripps secured the temporary injunction, later amended to a temporary restraining order, after Smithville aldermen voted unanimously on March 1 to terminate the city’s 99-year lease with the Coalition and for that the city assume full control of the animal shelter. The mayor and aldermen claimed that the Coalition, which since 2017 has contracted with the city to manage and supervise the facility, violated its agreement. City officials claimed that the city’s own employees working there actually ran the day-to-day operations of the shelter. In a separate decision, aldermen voted 4 to 1 on March 1 to re-allow the shelter to accept animals from out of town but within the county. Something the Coalition has been fighting for since aldermen issued the ban at a special meeting on October 29, 2020
Chancellor Thurman said in March that although the city had the right to cancel the contract, it could not unilaterally declare a violation by the coalition without a court ruling.
Although the county was not a party to this action, Chancellor Thurman said it had to be because the end result could have affected the county. He asked that the county join the case.
Since then, the city and the coalition have resumed talks and drafted an amended agreement to the original lease and contract that more fully clarifies the intent and purpose of the documents as well as the specific duties and obligations of the coalition and the city. .
While the city will have no control over the operation of the refuge under the amended lease and contract, it will have certain obligations to the coalition. The city will contribute (pay) the coalition an annual base sum of $ 100,000 for the first full year in quarterly installments, but the overall payment will increase by $ 1,000 per year for the next fifteen years.
No shelter employee will be funded or employed by the city. The coalition will be solely responsible for the staffing, management and operation of the shelter, including the hiring and firing of employees and will pay all costs associated with their employment, including salaries, uniforms, benefits, etc.
The city will provide the coalition with the certificate of title for the animal transport vehicle. In the future, the coalition will be solely responsible for all costs of maintenance and insurance coverage of the vehicle. The purchase of any subsequent animal transport vehicle will be the responsibility of the coalition.
The city will be responsible for all maintenance and repairs to the exterior of the animal shelter building and must continue to insure it with a reputable company for an amount sufficient to replace the structure if it is destroyed by a natural disaster. , fire, flood, etc. and must maintain general liability and damage insurance on the premises. If it is destroyed, the city will be forced to rebuild the shelter. It will be up to the coalition to maintain and repair the interior of the shelter and to maintain a general liability and damage insurance policy for the interior.
The coalition will also pay for all recurring monthly utilities as well as lawn maintenance at the shelter and dog park.
As for the dog park, which is located on the premises of the refuge and has been funded by a grant, the city will be responsible for all repairs, but the coalition will be in charge of the operation, management and staff of the dog park on a daily basis. .
If the city and the coalition have a future disagreement or dispute regarding issues that may arise from the original lease and contract or from that amended lease and contract, the parties will submit their disagreement to mediation conducted by the mediator listed in rule 31. , chosen by both parties. before either is allowed to seek redress in any court of competent jurisdiction. In addition, each party will be responsible for paying half of all costs incurred during the mediation process.